This week Sher awards two stars to Studio City newcomer Ombra Ristorante, a "very personal" restaurant under the guidance of chef and owner Michael J. Young. Despite its Valley location, this isn't your typical Italian spot (Young has worked in the past at both Valentino and Drago SM), Young changes his menu seasonally and is "cooking with confidence and attention to detail."
Open the menu and you'll quickly realize it's not just the same old L.A. Italian dishes. You might find a crackling crisp round of porchetta redolent of herbs and garlic as an antipasti, served with a terrific house-made green tomato mostarda. One night a panzanella made with chunks of heirloom tomatoes tossed with cucumber, red onions, day-old bread and sweet basil in olive oil and vinegar impresses.
The pastas are excellent and can be ordered as half or full orders. Cavatelli are small, ridged pasta that curl in on themselves, like shells, tossed in a tomato sauce with Dungeness crab, spring onions and arugula.SIV concludes that it's a bold move for a chef to open his/her own restaurant in a down economy, but she feels strongly enough about Ombra to say, "I think this is one restaurant that will make it." [LAT]
Jonathan Gold is pleased to sample John Sedlar's Saint Estèphe tribute menu at Rivara: "For the month of September, Sedlar has embedded the 1986 Saint Estèphe menu within the menu of his Rivera, and it is a fascinating look at the food at an important moment in Los Angeles culinary history, like a set by CSNY tucked into the context of a Neil Young concert. That chile relleno, that interplay between the goat cheese and the suave chile flesh, the impossible butterfat bomb of the cream sauce and the duxelles, is as precise an evocation of the past as anything I've ever encountered. I want to listen to Wham records again." [LAW]